Gratitude gets a lot of play in happiness and mindfulness circles. However, it doesn’t necessarily get its due in discussions of writing, productivity, and creativity.
It’s end of semester time around here, which means that everyone is feeling pretty spent. Colleagues are sick of each other, teachers feel like they are dragging their students across the finish line, and whatever weird emotional baggage the holidays bring up is coming home to roost. Add to this dwindling daylight and an exhausting election cycle and corresponding aftermath and have just mixed up a strange brew guaranteed to interfere with productivity necessary for and (dare I say) the joy that can accompany creative work.
This feels true in my own life as the end of the semester also corresponds with the endings of a couple writing projects that have felt very streetttccchhhedd out. What I refer to as the end of semester “I don’t wannas” are cropping up not just in relation to exam grading and lingering service tasks, but in my writing life as well. It’s particularly bad timing for me to be finishing writing projects at the end of semester because I hate the “cleaning up” part of the writing process, and in the case of the article and book I’m finishing at the moment, there have been many rounds of Hoovering and Windexing already.
So, how to break out of the funk?
Here’s one idea: saying thank you. Many creative pieces offer an official spot for doing this, whether in an acknowledgments section or a dedication. But even if your particular work or creative project doesn’t offer an official area for offering up gratitude, it’s still possible to draft a little list of people to send emails, cards, or even flowers when your work is done.
In what has been a bit of a bleak season, reviewing the acknowledgments section of my book fills me with a bit of a warm glow that extends to the project itself. I get to reminisce about the wonderful independent theater (Nashville’s Belcourt) where I first saw the films I’m writing about. I think about how cool it was to meet director Kelly Reichardt and meet her sweet dog. And, most happily, I am reminded of my friendship with my coauthor Nicole Seymour and how lucky I have been to write with her.
Now, does this mean that I’m going to love chasing down last citations for the manuscript? No. But it does mean that I’m interrupting my negative thought pattern with a reminder of the love and support that has gone into the project so far, and that’s just enough to make me shake of feelings of resentment and to return those feelings of care in kind.
Just a little glow of gratitude at a dark time of year.
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